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United States v. DeFronzo

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 8, 2017

United States of America
v.
Robert DeFronzo, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge

         This petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is brought to vacate and correct a lawfully imposed sentence. For the reasons that follow, petitioner's motion to vacate will be denied, and the petition will be dismissed.

         I. Background

         In October, 2014, Robert DeFronzo (“DeFronzo” or “petitioner”) was sentenced to 57 months imprisonment and 60 months of supervised release after being convicted of maiming in aid of racketeering, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, assault resulting in serious bodily harm in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to commit violent crimes in aid of racketeering.

         Petitioner's conviction arose from actions taken while he was a member of the Red Devils Motorcycle Club (“RDMC”), an affiliate chapter of the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club. In September of 2012, an unnamed member of the RDMC (“the victim”), who had failed to assault another former member as ordered by superiors, was forced by Sean Barr (“Barr”), a co-defendant in this case, to resign from the club.

         On October 15, 2012, the victim was ordered to come to the RDMC chapterhouse in Byfield, Massachusetts, purportedly to “clear his name”. When he arrived, the victim was met by DeFronzo, Barr, and several other RDMC members, including two co-defendants. After a long interrogation, one of the group took the victim's motorcycle keys and went to the victim's house to retrieve the vehicle.

         After the keys were taken, the victim was knocked unconscious. When he regained consciousness, Barr offered the victim a choice between having his hand or knee struck with a ball-peen hammer. The victim chose his hand but when he recoiled DeFronzo told him that if he did not submit willingly, DeFronzo would hold it for him. Barr then proceeded to strike the victim with the hammer, breaking four out of the five bones in his hand and causing serious, permanent injury.

         Between the months of October, 2012, and March, 2013, the victim was repeatedly told by the members of the RDMC that he was to give them the title to the stolen motorcycle or else he would be crippled, killed, maimed, or his partner would be raped, and she and her children murdered. The victim went into hiding and eventually contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”).

         On March 12, 2013, the FBI conducted surveillance as the victim delivered title to the stolen motorcycle to a member of the RDMC. In October, 2013, the defendants were arrested.

         B. Procedural history

         On February 5, 2015, petitioner was permitted to enter a plea of guilty pursuant to a binding Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement (“the agreement”) for each count of the indictment. The terms of the agreement provided for a joint recommendation that petitioner's offense level under the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“USSG”) would be 23, yielding an applicable sentencing guideline range of 46-57 months, and that DeFronzo would receive a sentence of 57 months imprisonment.

         As part of the agreement, the prosecution agreed not to apply the robbery enhancement found in § 2B3.1(a) of the USSG, which would have resulted in a guideline range the low end of which is 87 months incarceration. In return, petitioner agreed to the application of USSG § 2A2.2(b)(3)(C), which mandates a seven point enhancement because the victim of the crime sustained permanent bodily injury.

         The terms of the agreement also provided that the petitioner waive any right to challenge his conviction in future proceedings, including collateral attacks on his sentence.

         On April 10, 2017, petitioner filed a motion to vacate and correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, asserting that newly discovered evidence demonstrates that the victim's injury was not permanent. Accordingly, he contends the seven point enhancement under USSG § 2A2.2(b)(3)(C) was incorrectly applied and his ...


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